Tag Archives: vaccination

Tobacco Leaves Could Provide Cheap, Scalable Way to Make Zika Vaccine

Tobacco leaves drying. Photo by MRaccine.

Tobacco might have finally found the image upgrade it’s been looking for, as scientists hope to use the plant to produce a safe and cheap Zika vaccine.

If successful in humans, the plant-based approach could provide an effective solution for countries affected by the disease.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Scientists Use Tobacco Plant As Cheap, Scalable Zika Vaccine Factory

Nightmare Fuel: 10 of the CDC’s Deadliest Stockpiles

False-color scanning electron micrograph of a flea, the carrier for several infectious diseases, including Yersinia pestis, the plague bacterium.
False-color scanning electron micrograph of a flea, the carrier for several infectious diseases, including Yersinia pestis, the plague bacterium. Image courtesy the CDC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to walk a fine line. Saving people from the nastiest infectious diseases and bioterror attacks requires that they study those same viruses and bacteria. But even in one of the most carefully controlled and well-equipped facilities on Earth, items are occasionally mishandled or misplaced.

What’s the worst that could happen? It’s not a rhetorical question when we take a tour of …

10 Deadly Agents the CDC Works With

10 History-making Hispanic Researchers

Photo of Luis Alvarez with balloons.
When not doing Nobel prize-winning research, Luis Alvarez built President Eisenhower an indoor golf-training machine, analyzed the Zapruder film and tried to locate an Egyptian pyramid’s treasure chamber using cosmic rays. Photo courtesy Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory

Far too many scientists who made major contributions to knowledge and human health go unremarked, forgotten save for the occasional postage stamp or Google doodle. So when I was offered the chance to write about a few of the many outstanding scientists who came from Spanish-speaking lands, cultures and ancestors, I was understandably excited…and a little nervous. On the one hand, combining such a varied assemblage of people under one term – especially the political term Hispanic – wasn’t ideal. On the other hand, it gave me the chance to explore, and raise awareness of, a remarkably diverse array of persons, backgrounds and accomplishments. I hope you’ll find their stories as inspiring as I did.

10 Hispanic Scientists You Should Know

The Causation-Correlation Conflation

Not equal signThe question of cause  has haunted science and philosophy from their earliest days, in part because humans are wired for pattern-matching and confirmation bias. For all our supposed rationality, we confuse coincidence with correlation and correlation with causality.

Consequently, scientists must carefully design and control their experiments to remove bias, circular reasoning, self-fulfilling prophecies and hidden variables. They must respect the requirements and limitations of their methods, draw from representative samples and not overstate their results. Sometimes, however, that’s easier said than done. Read on to hear about…

10 Correlations that are Not Causations